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Herb Rubbed Smoked Pork Loin

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Not only is smoked pork loin a great choice in terms of flavor, it is also lean and healthy right up there with the white meat of chicken and I know that is something a lot of people will appreciate.

The thyme, rosemary, garlic herb rub I made for this is also a big part of the recipe so don’t skip it!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 to 4 hours (can vary based on thickness and whether you tie it up or not)
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F (107-116°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 145°F (63°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Cherry and apple mix (or any fruitwood)

What You’ll Need
  • Half pork loin (Buy the whole loin and cut it in half or just buy a half if it’s available. If you need more meat, cook both halves and double the recipe on the herb rub) Very little shrinkage so about ½ lb per person
  • 2 TBS Olive oil (brush on to help the rub to stick)
  • ¼ cup Jeff’s Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
  • Cooking twine

Herb Rub

Make the Herb Rub

Note: if you must use previously chopped or dried herbs, it will end up being around 2-3 TBS of thyme and 1 tsp of rosemary to give you an idea of the ratio.

Rosemary is very strong and only a little is needed in comparison to the thyme.

Place herbs, garlic, oil and rub into a food processor or you can chop herbs and garlic by hand and mix with the oil and rub until well combined.

Garlic cloves did not make it into the picture.. they were shy ;)

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Prepare Meat for Seasoning

Remove as much of the fat from the outside of the meat as possible including the silver skin with a sharp knife.

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I like to cut off the tapered end to square it up (if applicable)

You don’t have to but it does make it look nicer in my opinion.

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Make diagonal cuts on all sides about ¼ inch deep to give the rub and herbs extra surface area to stick to.

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The pork loin is now ready for the seasoning process.

Season the Pork Loin

Brush on some olive oil to help the rub to stick.

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Apply a good coat of the Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) all over the pork loin (top, bottom, sides and ends)

You can also use the original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) if you prefer or if that’s all you have.

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Apply the Herb Rub

Place about half of the herb rub on the top side of the pork loin and rub it all over the top and sides of the meat.

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Flip the pork loin over and put the other half of the herb rub on the bottom side and more on the sides and ends wherever needed.

Refrigerator Time

Place the rubbed pork loin into a bowl with a lid.

Put the bowl with the pork loin into the fridge for about 4-6 hours or overnight is even better.

A few minutes before you are ready to smoke the meat, take the pork loin out of the fridge and place it on a pan with a rack to make it easy to transport out to the smoker.

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Tying it up

Tying up the pork loin is a very good idea in that it makes the pork loin round instead of oblong and this will help it to cook more evenly. It also makes the roast look better in my opinion.

I simply cut 7-8 strings and tied a basic knot on each one.

I recommend tying a string around the meat about every inch or so all the way along the pork loin half.

If you look closely at the picture below, you can see how I did it.

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Getting the Smoker Ready

I used a mix of apple and cherry for smoke and you can use any smoker known to man or even a grill as long as you can maintain around 225°F (107 °C) for about 3-4 hours and provide some smoke to the heated environment.

Get the smoker preheated and once it is holding steady, you are ready to smoke.

Smoking the Pork Loin

Place the pork loin directly on the grate or use a Bradley rack.

Let it smoke cook for about 3.5 – 4 hours or until it reaches 145°F (63 °C) in the center of the meat using a durable, high-quality digital probe meat thermometer such as the ThermoWorks Smoke. When it reaches 145°F (63°C), remove it immediately from the heat, it is done.

If you have a water pan in your smoker, be sure to use it. It does a lot of good things for the smoking environment and should be used whenever possible.

I recommend adding smoke for at least 2 hours but it also completely fine and even recommended to add well-vented, light smoke for the entire time it is cooking. I do this most of the time and I love the well pronounced smoke flavors that I get in my charcoal, electric, and gas smokers by using this method.

Just a note: If you are using a pellet smoker, (I really enjoy using my Camp Chef Woodwind for this recipe!), consider using the “Lo Smoke” setting for about an hour before turning the knob to “Hi Smoke” or “225” if you prefer. Pellet smokers produce more smoke at lower temperatures and your best flavor will come from running it as low as possible for an hour or so before turning it up a bit. Cooking it low at first may add an extra half hour or so to this recipe but it’s worth it.

Slice and Serve

The pork loin will cool down quickly so with it only being 145°F in the center when it is finished, let it rest for 3-5 minutes then remove the cooking twine if you tied it up. Slice into ½ inch slices and serve immediately.

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Do you see how moist that is?

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Sliced and served up.. let’s eat!!

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Special Notes

If You Don’t Need a Whole Pork Loin

If you don’t need a whole pork loin right now, buy a whole one and simply cut it half. Freeze one half and cook the other.

Watch the Temperature of the Pork Loin

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: the most important thing you can do to make sure that this pork loin comes out juicy and tender is to use a trusted, tested meat thermometer and when it reaches 145°F (63°C) in the center, it is done. Remove it from the smoker immediately.

In years past, we were taught to cook pork to a much higher temperature and this resulted in something that just wasn’t as palatable as it could have been. The USDA has now informed us that 145°F (63°C) is completely safe for pork and it has been music to my ears and my stomach ever since.

Smoker Temperature

Maintain as close to 225°F (107 °C) in your smoker as possible and DON’T trust that factory thermometer.. it is most likely not accurate.

If you have a digital probe meat thermometer, (you should try your best to get one if you don’t), push the probe through a potato horizontally and lay the potato on the grate right next to the pork loin or whatever meat you are cooking. This will give you an accurate reading of what the meat is experiencing. Some thermometers come with a clip that holds it just above the grate.. these are very handy as well.

Note: The potato is just a device to hold the thermometer probe up off the grate but you can eat the potato when you are finished if you want to.

I recommend the “Smoke” by Thermoworks for a “leave-in-the-smoker” thermometer and the Thermapen for checking the temperature of the meat on the spot (it reads in about 2 seconds and I never cook without it anymore.

Yep.. He Said it!

Even if you DON’T have a smoker YET, this entire method will work great in the home oven using the same preparation and temperature recommendations. Having said that, this recipe is SO much better done with smoke and that is a fact.

You owe it to yourself to get a smoker, even if it is a cheap one or a second hand one found at a yard sale and learn how to use it.

You will soon find yourself using the oven less and less.

Why is the Meat Pink?

If you cook the pork correctly and call it done at 145°F (63°C) in the center, it will probably be a little pink as you can see in the pictures above.

For this reason, you may have folks ask you why the meat is pink and, if they are really out of touch with reality, they may even insinuate that the meat is not properly done.

All you can do is try to educate them and hope they accept the facts as they are today and not as they were in yesteryears.

Perfectly done whole (unground) pork will be a little pink and should be juicy, tender and tasty. If it’s dry and tastes like a hockey puck, it’s most likely overcooked.


Printable Recipe

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Herb Rubbed Smoked Pork Loin

I created this recipe especially for Mother’s day but it would also be good on any other special occasion or perhaps on an ordinary day when it’s just a family dinner get together. Whatever the reason, this recipe will fit the bill.

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 Pork loin
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil ((extra virgin))
  • 1/4 cup Jeff's Texas style rub
  • Cooking twine ((For tying up the pork loin))

Herb Rub

  • 1 cup thyme sprigs
  • 1.5 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 TBS Jeff's original rub ((heaping))
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

Make the Herb Rub

  1. Add herbs, garlic, rub and oil to a food processor and mix until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare the Meat

  1. Trim off all exterior fat.
  2. Make diagonal cuts into the meat about ¼ inch deep and about 1 inch apart all over the meat.
  3. Brush a little olive oil onto the meat to help the Texas style rub to stick.
  4. Add a good sprinkling of Jeff's Texas style rub all over the meat and work it in good.
  5. Add half of the herb rub to the top of the pork loin and work it into the top and sides of the meat.
  6. Flip the meat over and apply the other half of the herb rub.
  7. Place the loin in a lidded container and place in the fridge overnight.
  8. About 30 minutes before ready to smoke, remove meat from fridge and tie it up using kitchen twine to make it nice and round instead of oblong.

Smoke the Pork Loin

  1. Preheat smoker to 225°F (107°C).
  2. Place the pork loin directly on the grate and let it cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches 145°F (63°C) n the center of the roast.
  3. Remove from the smoker and carve into ½ inch slices.
  4. Serve immediately.

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24 Comments

  1. I zm looking forward to making this! I have several in the freezer.
    My question is, how does tying the loin tightly in a circle make it cook more evenly?
    I would think an oval shape would lead to more even cooking.
    I sure would like to hear your rationale, and be proven wrong!

    1. The time it takes for meat to cook is all about the amount of time it takes for the heat to reach the center of the meat and raise it to your finish temperature. When the meat is an exact circle, the distance from the outside to the center is exactly the same at all points.

      When the meat is in an oval shape, there is less distance on 2 sides and greater distance on 2 sides. This may not make a huge difference in reality but from a scientific point of view it’s not as even.

      I have not cooked 2 pork loins in the smoker with one tied up and one not so it’s just theory based.

      In the grand scheme it’s not a real big deal but just something that makes sense to me and it’s how I roll;-)

  2. Thank you for adding instructions for a pellet smoker! It is a big help for us part time smokers.

    1. Unfortunately, I do not. This is typically a 3 to 4 lb piece of the pork butt done just like you would typically do a pastrami. I will have to add it to my list of things to do this year;-)

  3. Can anyone recommend suggestions for what to do with a lot of left over smoked pork loin? I way over cooked then had company cancel.

  4. Jeff, I prepared this for Mother’s day dinner today. Turned out fantastic & extremely easy to prepare. It is now in my arsenal of killer smoked/BBQ food.

  5. Ok Jeff, I need your advice. I have purchased your tub recipes and bought your book. I see you using your Bradley smoker a lot and figured it was time to up grade to some thing I could just set and leave. I have an Acorn, similar to Green Egg, smoker, grill now. I love it, but don’t like the worry about what’s the temperature doing. I looked at Bradley and saw a lot of bad reviews. So I looked at a Traeger smoker and a Camp Chef, wondering if you have any thoughts on these, compared to the Bradley?

    1. Thank you for your patience. I do have a Bradley and I like it a lot however, it does struggle some in colder weather. If you live in a mild climate, this may not be an issue for you. The smoke flavor you get from the Bradley is out of this world good and it also has the ability to produce smoke without heating up the smoker.. this allows you to smoke cheese.

      I have a Traeger and just recently received a Camp Chef Woodwind with the side sear box. Both are great pellet smokers in my opinion but I am really excited about the features on the Camp Chef Woodwind. There’s an ash cup on the bottom so you don’t have to vacuum out the ashes like you do on the Traeger and most other pellet smokers. The Woodwind also has a special chute for removing the pellets.. makes it really easy to change out wood flavors. You can’t get much easier than pellet smokers and if you go to the Camp Chef website and watch their video on the Woodwind, you’ll be able to see all of the features. Check them out at https://www.smoking-meat.com/camp-chef

      The Bradley and the pellet smokers are set it and forget it smokers once you set them up. Great for cooking while you are working, relaxing or even sleeping.

  6. Jeff — one of your best, my man. I did this yesterday for Mom’s Day and it was outstanding. My cook went really fast — I was done in 2.5 hours, and I was smoking at ~225 on a Weber Smokey Mountain. Marinated overnight…used apple wood. Even the fussy kiddies liked it.

    I also learned how to do the butcher’s net thingey from the video link. I’m feeling awfully dang proud of myself.

    Only one issue for me: I smoked a couple of these to 140 then wrapped them in foil for the ride to Mom’s place. Once there, I finished them in a 400 degree oven to give them a little crispiness on the outside and make sure they got to 145 for safety. This was a great plan until I pulled the tray they were on out of the oven with a cheap oven mitt my folks had. That mitt held the heat out for about 8/10ths of a second…just enough time for me to get the tray out of the oven and half way to the stove top…but not any farther. Yep, I dropped those suckers while concentrating on not vocalizing the salty language flowing through my brain at the moment. ‘friad that cheapo ikea rug in the kitchen will be forever embedded with rosemary, thyme, and garlic. But, I got them off the floor in under the 10-second rule, and everything tasted just great!

  7. Could not find the continuation for the smoked wings recipe. Sounds great. I have done them on the grill but not smoker. Need for the 4th

  8. Made this recipe for Mother’s day. Quite tasty.

    Still eating the remains as cold pork sandwiches. Cooked a 3 lb portion of pig-pork tenderloin using apple-cherry wood smoke for about 4 hours at low temperature (~230°F), but did not get it off of the Primo Grill/Smoker quite quick enough and internal temps got to 150°F. Still tasty and juicy, however but not as pink as expected.

    Jeff, 1 cup of thyme (leaves only) is about 28 grams, and 1.5 springs of rosemary (leaves only) is less <1 g. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you specify ingredients in recipes by weight. With the ubiquity of digital scales these days, this is no hardship for the serious cook. Using volume measurements just doesn't cut it for many recipes.

    Similarly, I used a scale to weigh out the volumes which you gave in your rub recipes, but will not repeat those measurements here for obvious reasons. Weight, not volume, is far and away more accurate and reproducible.

    Owing to several factors, I let the pork tenderloin marinate in the EVOO, thyme, rosemary, rub mixture for about 30 hours in the refrigerator before tying up the roast and cooking it. Came out fine.

    You could taste the thyme which was not overpowering, and just get a hint of the rosemary. The cherry-apple smoke was also fairly subtle as smoke goes. Overall a good balance of flavors for a naturally tender piece of meat.

    I did trim off as much fat and silver skin as possible from the roast, but since I was tying the roast, I took those scraps and laid them on the top surface of the roast before tying. Why waste the extra bir of basting that comes from the fat in this particularly lean cut?

    I did discard those scraps and along with the string, of course, before serving as both had served their purpose..

    The remains of this roast as mention makes a great sandwich served cold between two slices of bread or toast with not much else save a little salt and pepper. I generally thick slice the cold roast at about 3/8" or about 90-96 g per slice.

    The leftover roast, if there is any, would also go well if cubed and placed in a salad. It is tender, tasty, low fat and low in calories for a protein source.

    Definitely a keeper. I will cook this again as I have plenty of pork tenderloin in the freezer.

  9. I want to make this recipe for Easter as.my file loves it. But I don’t have time Easter morning to cook this what with church and all. Can I make this the day before
    If so, any other recommendations on preparing?

  10. Jeff I have a unique situation I have a home size Factory smoker Built inside a Pressure Cooker made by Emson from New York. I bought the thing 2 0r 3 Christmas’s ago. The capacity is 5 Quarts . There is a recipe instruction manal , with recipes for Beef, Pork, Chicken Vegetables. However I am interested In smoking Oysters and smoking Ling Cod. I am reluctant to use it the smoker as it is so unique. Apparently thing can be smoked within 60 minutes. Could you send me some suggestions though E-mail or through your Weekly Newsletter. I have read 50- 100 books including yours on Smoking meats, etc. Nobody covers suggestion on Smoking Ocean caught white fish or Oysters . All smoking methods are Based on the use of Propane BBQ’s .Please Help.

  11. Jeff,

    This website and your book are my bible to smoking!! Thanks for all your help and recipes! Question on the smoked loin….since it has a tendency to dry out easily, can I still brine and smoke per the recipe?? How long to brine??

    Thanks!

    1. You can definitely brine it if you like with a 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of liquid ratio for about 6-8 hours.

      If you will make sure to remove it when it reaches 145°F, brined or not, it should be quite tender and juicy.

  12. It looks wonderful! I am wondering if you think it would work to slice and put into roasters as we would make a lot of this to serve for a fundraiser… Thanks!

  13. Jeff, I really love your newsletters and the food has always been fantastic. However, I have a confession and hope I don’t offend the die hard smokers out there. For Christmas my sons got me a new grill. It is called the Orion Grill and they got it at Bass Pro Shops I think. Anyway, it is not a smoker as it cooks at a higher temperature but it does allow use of wood chips and does a very good job. In its design the charcoal is always outside the grill and this forms like a convection oven inside the grill itself to do the cooking. This keeps the heat circulating and allows the food to cook quickly yet still remain juicy and tasty. You can add wood chips to the inside to create the smoke and I am surprised how much smoke flavor the circulating heat can infuse into the meat. I made some pork ribs last week and they were done in just over 1 1/2 hours. My family couldn’t tell them from those out of a smoker. I have tried several other of your recipes in it and they have all turned out fantastic yet in shorter time. This just makes for a great compromise when you don’t have time for the full smoke method. Have you heard of this grill or have you tried it yet. A chef friend recommended it and I’ll have to admit it is getting used more and more around our place. I’m trying a brisket next I think.
    Once again thank you for the newsletter and the rub recipe and keep the good news coming. Keep up the hard work.

    Craig Hastings
    OKC